If you’re like most of the venue managers we know, about this time each year you’re reflecting on how the year has gone. You’re exhausted because you’ve just come off an aggressive fall season, and you no sooner wrapped weddings, and had to turn your attention to holiday parties and squeezing in a few more bookings before the end of the year to try and make your sales goals.
Does that sound familiar?
You vow that you’re not going to have next year feel like the rat race this year was. You won’t chase your tail anymore. You’re going to have a better strategy for selling the venue and you’re going to create some goals that work and make your role more efficient. And you know all the phone calls in January (those Christmas Eve engagements) are just about to begin.
You’ll only have a few weeks to kick the year off right, but where do you start? This blog post is the first in a ten-part series about how to market an event venue.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps of how to write achievable venue business goals that can turn into real sales.
The first problem we see most people facing is a lack of appreciation for even setting goals.
Most people believe that they inherently “know” their goals in their head, and taking the time to think about (and document) them is just keeping them from the precious and time-consuming work of selling the venue.
However, a goal-setting study by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, confirmed that those who not only documented their goals, but had an accountability partner and reported on their progress, had a 50% higher likelihood of achieving those goals.
Did you hear that? Fifty percent higher. What if you increased your sales next year by 50% simply by writing down your goals and having a weekly progress accountability update with your team?
Writing solid business goals starts with solidly understanding your business. If you’ve not taken the time to write a mission and vision statement, start by writing those first.
Many people scoff at the idea of dwelling on mission and vision statements for event venues. But as an exercise, it can be helpful to define the heart and soul of your venue. Take the time to write out your mission, vision and core values. You don’t need to spend hours getting it just right. It is an exercise to help you focus, and it will help guide you through the goal-creation process.
If you cannot accurately say what makes your event venue “special” and why clients should rent your space, how will others be able to appreciate your uniqueness either?
Before diving into making complex goals, take an honest look at your venue. How do others perceive your venue? What kind of reputation do you have? Who are you trying to attract? Think about your best customers and your worst customers. What commonalities do your best customers have? Knowing the types of buyers you want makes it easier to adjust your brand and message to appeal to them. If your mission and vision statement don’t currently match the types of customers you want, make changing that part of your goal-setting process.
Just like Jack Handey, we believe in deep thoughts.
When you don’t take a hard look at your event venue and what you’re selling, it can be difficult to maximize your potential. And this sort of reflective thinking takes a clear mind, and space to brainstorm.
We recommend giving yourself (and perhaps your team) at least one day to clearly outline these answers:
- What’s our venue’s mission?
- What’s our venue’s vision statement?
- What are our venue’s core values? What do we want customers to leave knowing about us and appreciating?
- What’s our venue’s main attraction for most customers?
- What’s our venue’s main drawback for most prospects that don’t convert into customers?
After you’ve answered these five (5) important questions, it’s time to turn your attention to the main part of your business-writing process:
If you could wave a magic wand, what would a perfect year look like for you and your event venue team so far as prospects, sales, client relations, team morale and brand growth?
That’s a big question. But when you think about your venue in that “big” way, you leave yourself room to have an amazingly big outcome.
Now comes the important step of documenting your goals in a manner that’s accessible for the entire team.
There are a lot of factors that can limit your ability to reach your goals:
- You only have so much time and money at the venue. You can’t reach everyone.
- The type of customers you are pursuing may not currently be booking the venue. So you may have a gap.
- The amount of space you have remaining to sell for open event dates limits your inventory.
- How people perceive your venue brand make keep you from reaching some customers you crave.
Another important factor that limits your ability to reach your goals is lacking clarity about where the team is going, and ignoring the importance of focusing on the details. When this happens, people tend to make vague goals such as “we need to increase sales this year” or “we want to sell as much we can.”
These sort of goals not only lack a clear, measurable finish line, they also don’t define who’s responsible for achieving them, or by what means or on any specific timeline.
Partners In Leadership conducted the Workplace Accountability Study, involving over 40,000 participants and determined the number #1 factor stunting businesses is a lack of defined accountability.
Between the 85% of survey participants who weren’t even certain what their organizations are trying to achieve, the 80% who lacked any positive feedback from supervisors, and the 70% who had no clarity around key results, it should come as no surprise that a whopping 93% of those surveyed were unable to align their work or take accountability for desired results.
Did you hear that? More than nine out of ten of employees cannot figure out how they fit into reaching the business’ goals, or even feel accountable for doing so.
You can fix this at your venue though. You don’t need to be another business statistic where management desires and employee results are not aligned.
You can adopt the SMART-goal writing style.
SMART goals help you go from a vague goal like “make more money” to something more specific like “improve bridal bookings by 20% over the course of the year, with a targeted focus on our new bridal coordinator working directly with professional event planner referrers in our area.”
SMART goals are:
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Achievable and Assigned to Someone
- R – Realistic and Relevant
- T – Time-Bound
Take some time to think about all the ways you can make more focused goals for your venue using the SMART system. If you’re challenged to get started, ask team members to think about each of their focal points for the year, and making at least one (1) SMART goal around the focus area, or each type of event you book, etc.
Now that you have SMART goals for the event venue, you can more accurately focus your energy on the actions that will help you achieve them, and stop wasting time on things that don’t. With this more precise roadmap, you can evaluate the options available to you against what you are trying to achieve.
We recommend tying your business goals directly to your sales goals so that you can make sure you have the specific team assignments in place, to measure your progress and record your achievements which should be realistic, relevant and time-bound.
Remember, two (2) of the most important factors in turning your venue business goals into immediate sales are:
- Writing them down, sharing them with others and having a regular progress update.
- Making sure everyone knows who’s accountable for achieving which results to hit which goals in a specified amount of time.
Every idea will not be a winner. So, you need to make sure you recognize that it’s okay to try some things, and scrap them if they’re not working. Consider giving yourself weekly, monthly and quarterly review periods for some of your ideas so you can better assess your progress and when to pull the plug on dud ideas.
If things aren’t working, evaluate and adjust. It’s perfectly fine to iterate and tweak your goals as you see what’s working and what’s not for maximum results.
Focusing on these aspects of your event venue will make you more efficient with your efforts and better able to keep track of how well you are advancing towards your goals.
Next week we will discuss the Top 5 Things Venue Managers Miss when Building the Marketing Plan for their event venue.